OK, well, the winner is *us* for taking a month off to travel through Italy. :)
But, more to the point, we've chosen a place to stay for the bulk of our trip. And the winner is: La Tavola Marche! Located in the "calf" of the boot, in a central region near Tuscany and Umbria, La Tavola Marche is an agriturismo run by an American couple who share much of the same slow food philosophy we espouse. I ran into Ashley and Jason in the Slow Food group on LinkedIn. To take a snippet from their web site: La Tavola Marche is run by a young passionate American couple who will cook for you, take you shopping in the local markets for the night’s dinner, direct you to the best wines and cheese of the region, and if you wish, give you cooking lessons.
Do these guys sound like our people, or what?
They have several different apartments on their property. Unfortunately, by the time I contacted them with specific dates, the smallest one was already taken. But they made arrangements for us to rent a slightly larger apartment at a very reasonable rate. So we'll be spending the middle section of our trip in the middle of Italy, cooking and visiting the wineries and markets of Le Marche and just soaking in the scene for two weeks. From what we've read on Ashley & Jason's blog we're gonna fit right in.
We're still working through the details of the rest of the trip, although a good bit of it will be left to chance and our whims of the moment. We'll likely start off in Venice and Florence, then go to Le Marche, then end up in Rome. I'm also toying with the idea of visiting Torino, which is the home of the Slow Food movement, and also has an active CouchSurfing community. We'll see. We will need to rent a car to get to La Tavola Marche, but taking the train between the major cities seems the sanest way to go. The goal is to couchsurf as much as possible, with some hotels/hostels on board for backup.
As I've said before, one of the nice things about going to Italy (as opposed to, say Malaysian Borneo) is that seemingly everyone's been there and has a recommendation or ten. These we take with a big grain of salt, but it's all part of the pre-trip planning and research. Some other great resources I've been using to help plan:
* a flotilla of fabulous Italy Tweeps
* a wonderful book we stole (ehm, borrowed!) from Mark's sister, called "One Hundred & One Beautiful Small Towns of Italy"
* ViaMichelin to help estimate drive times
Watch the calendar/maps sections of this site as additional details evolve. And of course we'll be blogging and tweeting our way through the trip... trying to find that elusive balance of sharing the juicy detes and actually enjoying our travels!
(all photos are from Ashley's Flickr photostream)
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